Saturday, September 14, 2013

Change Is Inevitable


I think Mother Nature must be going through menopause.

Hot flashes one day, cold flashes the next; and the gusty winds and thunderstorms.

But this morning the air is still and the sky is blue. And the sun light is bright with a slight tint of orangey yellow.

And it's chilly.

The dew that dropped out of the sky has coated everything on the ground with a thick coat of wet.

Even though I pulled out my heavy black woolen sweater from the closet that stores winter coats, I'm still chilled by the slight breeze as I sit on the back deck by the still waters of the swimming pool.

I guess it's time to consider that summer is over and fall is starting.

It's time to close this swimming pool down. It's time to give it one final vacuum, empty the water to the half-way point, poor in the winter doses of chemicals, and put the black tarp on.

But not yet, at least not today.

We still have ball practices to attend, and the Major Leagues still have two weeks of the regular season left. But then, ball always starts before the pool opens and ends long after the pool is closed.

Many have told me that they feel ripped off by the summer we had this year. Too cool, too wet they all say. But I disagree.

This has been a fantastic summer.

There's a humming bird hovering next to a bush of blue flowers in the garden, sipping the dewy nectar that lies on the tiny petals, oblivious to the fact that it's forty seven degrees outside. But he is in the sunshine while I sit here in the shade.

I wonder if he thinks the summer was too short.

Maybe.

The trees don't think so. For all the maples that I see in my surroundings, only one has leaves starting to turn orange and red. And he always starts early, as though in a rush to be first. The first with leaves in spring, and the first to change colors and fall in autumn.

The impatient one, while the rest still stand high and sturdy with lush green leaves in no hurry to see the season end.

It is still summer you know.

My eldest daughter Alannah has ball practice shortly at noon. Still a practice / tryout of sorts for a new team with another club called the Wildcats, having been cut from the next age group up at the Turtle Club. The experience left me questioning the concept of loyalty – and how do I convince her to hold the value true when the club she was so loyal too was not loyal back to her in return.

But you have to earn your spot to make the team. And this year the competition came from every nook and cranny of our peninsula of a county nested between the great lakes St. Claire and Erie. I watched most every moment of those practices, and I thought Alannah did terrific.

But I must have misjudged her competition.

Last year, my youngest Ashley-Rae missed the cut to play on the same team Alannah did. She spent the summer watching from the side with me, and together we went through house league and all stars. And together we had a ball. Now this year, she made the team that Alannah grew too old to play for anymore. She won her spot in convincing fashion. And so as a family we now get to remain with the other families who will still travel together next year from tournament to tournament, while we make new friends on the new team that Alannah seems certain to earn a spot on. Families from a different club who may not hold the Turtle Club in as high esteem as we do, out of loyalty.

Next year we will be both inside – and on the outside looking in. On both sides of the window.

Alannah's new team does look like it will be very strong though. I haven't seen a single weak player on the team. And two of her old team mates from Turtle Club will be there to, both Lilly and Rachael suffered the same breakdown in what they presumed to be a two-way commitment.

I'm very proud of my two girls – both equally – as they grow up with fast pitch softball as one of their anchor points in their development into young ladies. In fact I am very proud of all the girls I have had the pleasure to manage and coach this year – and those that I simply rooted for on Alannah's team.

There isn't a bad apple in the whole group.

And so, with Ashley's experience of being cut behind her, and now Alannah, the older sister, just learning the experience now – and moving on with a maturity that inspires me, I reconsider my position and understand that relationships, be them with people or with organizations, are more often than not fleeting. They are ever-changing, growing like the huge maples that grow around my yard.

And some change colors early, while others stay green as long as they can.

It's been a fantastic summer for me and my family. Travelling to play ball and watching them step up to each challenge and conquer their own self-doubts. Both Alannah and Ashley-Rae grew up a good bit this year in the most positive ways any father could ask for.

And now they are confident in their own abilities and in each other's as well. They know how to face obstacles, how to meet challenges, and how to succeed.

It's been a fantastic summer.


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